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“Scanner Cop” is not a Western

Scanner Cop
Year: 1994
Genre: Sci-Fi / Thriller
Director: Pierre David
Stars: Daniel Quinn, Richard Grove, Richard Lynch

Sam Staziak, a rookie cop with the Los Angeles Police Department, is also a ‘scanner’ (psionic). When a string of murders begins to decimate the police department, Sam faces sensory overload and possible insanity as he uses his powers to hunt the man responsible for the killings.

So now we come to Scanner Cop which might as well be called Scanners 4 but really is more like Scanners 2.  It’s a better Scanners 2 – it’s what Scanners 2 should have been.  While it’s nowhere near on equal footing as the original movie, as far as follow-ups to it go, Scanner Cop is really not that bad.

This is the one that Josh Hadley speaks highly of in any public forum.  So much so that of all the “Faggot Josh” memes out there this is the only one that is surprisingly accurate.

scanner cop 1So what is it about Scanner Cop that makes it such a damn good and easily memorable movie?

Correcting the Timeline

scanner cop 2Scanner Cop basically forgets that Scanners II or Scanners III ever happened.  it acknowledges that the events of Scanners happened, lightly giving us the backstory of what a scanner is. We no longer have these ever-evolving treatment drugs for scanners like F2 and F3; we only have the original Ephemoral and, goddammit, it does it’s job good.  One could think of  Scanner Cop as a rebooted sequel – like what Superman Returns tried to with its own franchise – forget the bad sequels and only acknowledge the good ones.  While Superman Returns was a boring piece of cash-in crap, Scanner Cop does a great job of being a new, improved and much more entertaining Scanners 2.

The film starts just a few years after the events of Scanners as we see a scanner living with his son, Samuel, in a shit-hole apartment.  There’s no more ephemoral in the house and as this is the drug that keeps scanners from completely losing their shit it’s quite a problem for this broken family.  Little Sam is cool, he had some Ephemoral that morning but Dad hasn’t had any for 4 days and he’s gone insane.  He’s screaming at the voices in his head and hallucinating all kinds of disturbing things.  When the police show up he has no concept of reality and keep on being crazy to the point of getting himself shot, leaving his son an orphan.

Poor orphan Sam… forgotten by society, and apparently forgotten by the internet because Google image search doesn’t know who you are.  I had to get a screencap of the kid myself.

scanner cop 3

Sam the Scanner Cop

scanner cop 4Young Sam is adopted by Pete, the officer that saved him from psycho-dad.  As long as he takes ephemerol every day there’s no reason this scanner kid can’t have a normal life.  14 years later Sam is grown up and follows in the footsteps of his new father by becoming a police officer.  Now Sam Staziak is Officer Staziak or Scanner Cop.  Sam has grown into a fine young man.  Sure he’s got the emotional depth and capability of cardboard but, damn if he ain’t good looking.  He immediately sets to work using his scanner abilities to set right the world through the field of law enforcement.

However there is someone out there in Los Angeles that HATES the police.  This mysterious person hates them so much he’s brainwashed people to murder whomever they see wearing a uniform.  A kindly Asian man at a diner suddenly goes nuts and kills two cops.  A man at a newspaper stand hacks up a cop with a machete.  It would seem that Scanner Cop Sam chose the wrong day to join the LAPD.  However with random people losing their minds and attacking cops – this is just the kind of job that needs a scanner’s special abilities.

One of the Greatest Villians

scanner cop 5The late Richard Lynch plays the vengeful Karl Glock who is behind this rash of brainwashings.  Like Michael Ironside in the first *Scanners, Richard Lynch is a go-to character actor that always plays the bad guy quite well.  For most of his career that’s the roles that Richard Lynch played – villains.  In horror and sci-fi movies and tv series all through the 80s and 90s and even up until his recent death.  His final role was in Rob Zombie’s The Lords of Salem as Reverend Hawthorne.  There’s a reason that Richard Lynch always played villains – he was goddamned GOOD at it.  His performance as Karl Glock in *Scanner Cop is no different and he gives the franchise the life it needed.  Lord knows that Daniel Quinn wasn’t going to do that with his work in the title role.  Next to Richard Lynch piledriving his way through every scene as the most awesome villain, Daniel Quinn might as well just be a cardboard cutout of a Scanner Cop.

So why is Karl Glock brainwashing innocent civilians to murder police officers?  It’s just a standard revenge plot – nothing too noble about it.  He’s not trying to expose a greater evil of police corruption or anything like that.  Glock was arrested once and he carries a pretty bad grudge over it so – PSYCHO VENGEANCE!  The LAPD depicted in Scanner Cop are all upstanding gentleman (literally, “gentleman,” as I don’t think I saw a single woman on the force) and all the villains are broadly painted archetypes of evil.  As far as characters go, Scanner Cop is very simplistic.  No need to thing about the various gray shades of human nature; just sit back and enjoy the ride.

Scanners Still Means ‘Splodin Heads

scanner cop 7Yes, but not so much with Scanner Cop.  There is only one head explosion in the whole movie – and it mostly happens offscreen.  Scanner Cop, however, gives us a whole new type of body horror.

Right off the bat we get something new and interesting with Crazy-Dad’s hallucinations.  He’s hearing 8 million voices in his head which he sees as actual things in his head.  Instead of having his head explode, faces grow out of his forehead – FUCKING FACES!!!  They look like little unborn fetuses trying to crawl out of his skull and it is goddamn creepy.

As the only scanner in the whole movie is Sam the Scanner Cop – we don’t get too many deaths by scanning.  Most onscreen murder happens at the hands of Glock’s brainwashed individuals who use a knife or a gun – nothing too spectacular.  Then there is the final battle between Sam and Glock where we learn a new thing about the limitations of a scanners’ abilities – they can’t go through a metal plate in someone’s head (remember… we ARE knocking Scanners II and III out of continuity, so whatever bullshit that happened there didn’t actually happen).  So when Sam tries to scan the hell out of Glock, all he does is melt the skin around that metal plate.  It’s gruesome looking but there’s no exploding head.  Not until Sam realizes he can do basically whatever he wants to Glock when he has physical contact with him – so by grabbing Glock’s arm and using all the scanner power he can muster THEN we get our one ‘splodin head…. kind of.  It happens off screen but we do get to witness that metal plate fly off, crash against the wall and then act as a handy bowl to catch the falling brain matter.  It’s still a pretty good “fuck yeah” kind of moment.

Scanner Cop
was a revitalizing experience.  When I was feeling down and saying “Aw crap, I still have two movies left – why did they make so many of these fucking movies,” along comes a great, fun flick like Scanner Cop to brighten my spirits.  Now I’ve only got one movie left and not matter how good or bad Scanner Cop 2 is it’s the only one I have left to worry about.


About The Author
Matthew Coats
Matthew Coats
Formerly known under the pseudonym of Alex Jowski. Site owner, movie aficionado, and film school grad. Matthew Coats presents reviews, some written, some as vlogs, and some as weekly shows, for a variety of different movies and television shows. After years of struggling to get his own projects off the ground amidst the normal routine of living, Matthew Coats decided to create a site in order to share and promote movie reviews, video games and much much more from talented and original people all across the internet.

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